THE WINEMAKER’S INFLUENCE
Or, Doing a lot with what you have
Organic Wine Tasting
Friday 4th November
£20 in advance only
(places must be booked two days in advance)
Shall we lay our scene in fair Verona? Well, in the Veneto, at least. And what a broad range of characters are here, in one winemaking region. Wines as reliable as Benvolio, unabashed as Mercutio and brooding as Tybalt. Supple Soaves, big-bodied Ripassos and monstrous Amarones all hail from this geographical area, and these radically different wines are often made by the same winemakers.
Fasoli Gino converted to organics in 1984, and were fully certified in 1990. Current owners Amadio and Natalino are the fourth generation of the family to run the vineyards and winery. They switched to organic cultivation after they and their father developed health problems which they attributed to exposure to pesticides. They have been dynamic proponents of organic farming, encouraging nearby growers to convert, and buying grapes from them to make additional wines.
And the wines they’ve made bear their imprint. This tasting aims to show how the same grape varieties can make a range of styles, depending on the decisions taken in the vineyard and in the winery – from when to pick the grapes to when to press them, to whether to age the finished wine, how long for, and what vessel to use.
Soave is usually a blend of Garganega and Trebbiano. In the wrong hands, it can be thin and acidic, but Fasoli Gino make a lusher version, using only Garganega, and ageing 20% of the grapes in oak to soften and substantiate the wine. It remains broadly familiar in style to UK drinkers, who have a thirst for crisp and light Italian whites.
We don’t often see examples of the wine that will follow. The Pieve Vecchia is made from the same grape variety, but the resulting wine is as different as can be. Aged in oak, its arresting golden colour is testament to its lightly oxidative character. The grapes for this wine are harvested in three tranches. The first preserves the acidity, the second is at peak ripeness, and the third, riper still, makes a for a full, rich, potent wine.
Moving to reds, another surprise awaits. Valpolicella is better known for producing light, fruity reds, though Fasoli Gino age theirs for 8 months in large oak barrels. Further bottle ageing has added depth, and a broad spectrum of flavours to this wine – ripe red cherry from the fruit, cedar from the oak, and tobacco and wet leaves developing with time.
It is still, however, the lighter of the three reds, which get bigger in body as the evening goes on, culminating with an Amarone della Valpolicella. Making an Amarone requires time, space and attention. Whole bunches of grapes are picked and left in drying rooms for up to three months. When the drying (or appassimento) process is complete, the resulting must is gently pressed, and the juice fermented. The wine is then barrel-aged for at least two years before release. The drying process concentrates the flavours – but reduces the volume. Amarones are about creating small quantities of nectar to savour.
There is a stepping stone between these wines, one that is increasing in recognition and popularity. Valpolicella Ripassos are made by “repassing” the pomace of grape skins left from making Amarone into Valpolicella. This adds texture, weight and body to the wine, and makes for a bigger Valpolicella.
If you haven’t been to one of our tastings before, they are informal, unpretentious and sociable affairs. And if you can’t make it into (or home from) Norwich in the evening, we will run a truncated version of this event earlier the same day. Lunchtime Tippling with Tom will run from 12noon till 1pm. For £6, you can taste the first three wines on the list, with lunch available to buy in the cafe afterwards. Please reserve your place in the shop.
The evening’s wines in full:
Soave ‘Borgoletto’, Fasoli Gino, DOC 2014
(Grape variety: Garganega. 12.5% abv., shop price £10.95)
Served with dukka (toasted and ground almonds & spices)
Soave ‘Pieve Vecchia’, DOC 2012
(Garganega. 14.5% abv, shop price £17.50)
Served with local roasted squash wedges
Valpolicella DOC 2013
(Grape varieties: Corvina / Rondinella. 14%, £13.95)
Served with celeriac crisps & lentils
Valpolicella Ripasso DOC 2013
Corvinone / Corvina / Rondinella. 14.5%, £16.50
Served with baked mushrooms & garlic
Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2011
Corvina / Rondinella. 17.5%, £45
Served with Lye Cross organic Stilton
All food organic
sourced from Folland Organics, row A Norwich Market,
& the Greenhouse shop
Bread from the Timberhill Bakery
Feedback from recent organic wine tastings:
‘Excellent, friendly, sociable.’
‘Well presented. Nice amount of “technical” detail.’
‘Lovely taster nibbles too!’
Facebook: Organic Wine Norwich